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July 17, 2008

Malaysia: Opposition leader released on bail

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has left police headquarters after being freed on bail over sodomy accusations that triggered his arrest, AFP quoted his lawyer as saying Thursday.

Lawyer Sivarasa Rasiah told reporters that Anwar left the headquarters accompanied by his wife and daughter, and was headed straight home.

"He is freed, he is not feeling well and he's going straight home," he told reporters.

He was expected shortly to leave police headquarters where he was taken after his arrest on Wednesday and spent a night in detention. Sankara had earlier expressed doubt that Anwar would be released, accusing police of reneging on a promise to free him on Wednesday evening.

Anwar has said the allegations made by Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 23-year-old former aide, are a government conspiracy to prevent him from seizing power after March elections where the opposition made major gains.

His party said that 20 balaclava-clad police commandos swooped on the opposition leader's vehicle as he approached his home on Wednesday, just an hour before he was due to appear voluntarily for a police interview.

He was taken to Kuala Lumpur police headquarters and underwent a long interrogation before being taken to hospital for a medical examination, where his lawyers said he refused to give a DNA sample.

Police are allowed to hold Anwar for 24 hours but then must either charge him or apply for a court order to extend his detention for up to 14 days.

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